Why I Ask Prospects 10+ Questions Before We Work Together

When prospects reach out to me about collaborating on a project, I have them pass through a quick Q&A before we even speak.

They answer a number of questions on my contact form, where I cover questions on project type, budgets, and referral information. In my email response, I send over another set of questions to dig deeper into the request.

I want to know:

  1. What are your goals for this project?
  2. What’s your timeline for this work?
  3. When will this need to be completed/delivered?
  4. Have you worked with an outside writer before? If so, what was your experience with him/her?
  5. Who is involved in making the decision on whether we move forward on this project? Just you, or are there others you need to involve in the decision?

There are a few reasons why I ask even more questions at this point. I want to be sure we’re a good fit for each other and don’t waste each other’s time. We’re both busy, so no sense in spending a ton of time vetting each other if we’re not going to work with each other.

But also, these questions help me determine whether you’re a serious prospect or not. I can’t tell you how many times I get messages from people who have clearly not read anything on my website. They ask me to write for industries I am clearly not specialized in or they copy + paste a message into the form hoping for a response.

Again, the reason I ask questions is to ensure we’re a good fit and to save us both time. When you spam my form and ask me to write for your B2C product or you only want to pay me $25 for a 1,000 word blog post, you’re wasting your breath. I don’t bother to respond to those messages because we’re clearly not a good fit.

What I look for in a prospect

Okay, Julia, what DO you look for in a prospect or client?

Well, I’m glad you asked! Here’s what I’m looking for in every B2B tech client:

  1. 🧠 You understand content marketing.
  2. 💲💲 You have a healthy budget.
  3. 📆 You’ve given me enough time to get your project done.
  4. 🤝🏽 You trust me to do my work.
  5. 💸 You pay promptly.

Why are these 5 things important to me as a freelance technical copywriter? Well, it’s pretty simple.

Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint

If you understand what content marketing is and how it works, you know that it’s a long-term game. You’re ready to incorporate anything I write for you into your ongoing marketing campaigns to help increase customer engagement, reduce monthly churn, and develop better relationships with your prospects and customers. You know that a single blog post, eBook, or repurposed piece of content is not going to turn your business around from the brink of disaster.

Healthy budgets + prompt payments = happy freelancer

A healthy budget is a sign that your B2B tech company’s upper management believes in content marketing and how it can help your business. They understand that high-quality content doesn’t come cheap and actually saves you money in the long run.

A client that pays promptly is also one that has a solid revenue base and understands how cashflow is essential to outside workers. Most freelancers can tell you horror stories about customers, even large, global enterprises, that take months to pay freelancer invoices of just a couple of hundred dollars. – including me. So, pay your freelancers promptly and you’ll have a relationship with me forever.

Advanced notice is a sign of good business

Typically, I ask for 2-3 weeks notice for projects from clients, either new or existing ones. That gives me enough time to pencil you into my schedule and ensure I can devote the right amount of time to you. Asking me to do something for next week or in the next 5 days is a red flag to me. 🚩

It’s a sign that you didn’t plan your marketing campaign properly and you potentially don’t value the work of a copywriter. Quality work takes time. Not always a ton of time, but certainly more than a few days. If you rush me, you’re going to get sub-par work, which I don’t like delivering to clients. And it probably won’t work for you either, meaning you have to redo it and spend more time & effort to get it right.

A good relationship is based on trust

Whenever I start a new relationship with a client, I typically ask for a deposit. It’s a sign that we’re both serious about the relationship and, quite frankly, covers my costs if the relationship doesn’t work out. Cashflow is always an issue for freelancers since we’re often paid on a delayed schedule after delivering work. So, by asking for some money up-front, I’m assured of some money to sustain my business, and I promise to always send you what I agreed to send. You learn to trust me when I send you the work; I trust you when you pay when you say you would.

Trust also extends to our working relationship. I’m a freelancer and have been for over a decade. I’ve also been a professional writer for 20+ years.

  • If you don’t trust me to get your project done in the timeline you’ve laid out for me, we have a problem.
  • If you’re going to constantly reach out with messages and emails inquiring on the status of your project, we have a problem.
  • If you need me to attend a weekly or bi-weekly status meeting for your project, we have a problem.
  • If you ask me to track my hours for you as I work on your project, we have a problem.

My clients hire me because they trust me to do the work they ask of me. They see my qualifications and my experience, and know that I’ll deliver for them. I am always transparent in my timelines and if I can’t get your project done on time, I’ll let you know ASAP. The reverse is also true: when we agree to work together, I trust that you will leave me be and deliver the project to you on time and as requested. If you have questions, you can ask, but if you feel the need to check in constantly, we’re not a good fit.

The next time you want to hire a freelancer, think about your expectations. Think about what they’ll expect from you. It’ll start the relationship off on the right foot.